Palace ‘cautiously optimistic’ about peace deal with the MILF PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 21 July 2012 14:16

Malacanang said it is “cautiously optimistic” on forging a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front following the conclusion of the 29th exploratory talks between the MILF and the government in Malaysia on Wednesday.

“I can only tell you that we are cautiously optimistic that a peace agreement will be signed within this administration,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in response to a question from Palace reporters during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, as to how far the government of the Philippines and the MILF can agree in a peace deal.

While Lacierda declined to discuss further the recent developments in the talks in Malaysia, Lacierda described the peace initiative as “very positive.”
He said the statement made by government chief negotiator Dean Marvic Leonen that both sides are “at the door of a peace agreement” is a serious assumption of the ongoing peace negotiation.

On Monday, during the opening of the 29th Formal Exploratory Talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Leonen urged the MILF to persevere, saying that both parties are now at the “door of an agreement.”

The chief negotiator enumerated the recent working arrangements between the government of the Philippines and the MILF, which can serve as the framework for future cooperation.

The fact that the government panel was given an opportunity to interact with some of the communities supportive of the MILF ideals and given the chance to address a recent MILF consultative assembly, are positive developments in the peace discussion, Leonen said.

“The working relationship was impressive. I believe it was so because it was founded on trust and respect that our troops already have for each other. It was also founded on a vision, in that case, an assembly of hundreds of thousands,” Leonen said.

In response, MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal agreed that the “momentum for a peace settlement is at hand,” citing that the presence of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles at the Darapanan assembly “speaks well of the future of the peace talks.”

The government and MILF panels successfully concluded the 29th round of Exploratory Talks in Malaysia with both sides expressing confidence in wrapping up discussions on mechanisms towards the realization of a new political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  

Leonen, for his part, said the Aquino administration “is prepared to fully invest in a harmonious working relationship between the National Government and the new autonomous political entity to enable an autonomy that is truly viable and workable.”

Both parties continued discussions on power-sharing and other related matters during the talks and agreed to meet again next month.

The two panels expressed their gratitude to President Benigno S. Aquino III for his commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao. They also thanked Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak for his continued support for the facilitation of the peace process.